Connecticut divorce details
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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Connecticut
There is a trial as the final procedure of a contested divorce proceeding. Both parties must appear before the court and the judge makes a decision on the terms of their separation. A contested divorce process implies that numerous additional court hearings are required before the final trial. Contested divorces are for spouses who are unable to settle the terms of the divorce by themselves.
An uncontested divorce on the other hand, is quite simple and doesn’t take long as there is only one (final) hearing that you must attend. Furthermore, you should come to an agreement regarding all the issues of divorce amicably.
Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut
An uncontested dissolution of marriage is easier, quicker, and cheaper way to terminate your marriage than a contested one.
To file for an uncontested divorce, both spouses should mutually agree on the termination. They have to cooperate to draft a Settlement agreement, which provides the court with the terms of their case and all the details related to children and property.
You should file for an uncontested divorce on a no-fault ground. This means that neither parties blame each other for the breakup and therefore don’t need to contest the case.
Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut
Although uncontested divorce are common in Connecticut, the state law officially recognize both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
- No-fault grounds
There are two no-fault grounds for dissolution:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
- Living apart for at least 18 months before filing for divorce.
These grounds are popular as a no-fault divorce is rather cheap and quick, and require much less time to be spent in court.
Fault grounds for dissolution:
- Fraudulent contract
- Abandonment for at least 12 months
- At least 7 years of absence from the marriage, without any communication
- Alcohol or drug addictional
- Cruel or abusive behavior
- One spouse is mentally ill and legally confined to a mental institution for a minimum of 5 years within the past 6 years.
To file for a fault-based divorce, the filing spouse must prove their partner’s misconduct to the court by providing convincing evidence.
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Connecticut Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
According to the Connecticut General Statutes, a couple can be granted a divorce in Connecticut if:
- At least one of the spouses is a resident of Connecticut for at least 12 months;
- One of the spouses was domiciled in the state at the time of the marriage and returned there with the purpose of permanently remaining before the filing for divorce;
- The cause for the divorce arose after either party moved to Connecticut.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut?
Typically, you should file for an uncontested divorce in the Superior Court of the county where you live. In the case where neither you nor your spouse requests spousal support, you can file in any county in Connecticut. There are 4 steps you have to take:
- File the "Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage" and "the Summons". The Summons form is needed to notify your spouse about the divorce action. You should make copies of these documents.
- Serve your spouse with the paperwork (the copies). They must be served at least 12 days before the so-called Return date, stipulated by the terms contained in the Summons. The Return date gives a start to the 90-days waiting period, which means that even if the spouses have agreed on all issues, the divorce cannot be granted earlier.
- Your spouse must file an Answer to Complaint, and you may use the 90 days to draft a detailed Settlement Agreement.
- Attend the court hearing (in some cases, your spouse may be invited too). During the final hearing, the judge must make sure that you both accept all the terms included in your Agreement. Finally, the judge can enter a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and the divorce is granted.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Connecticut
The state of Connecticut not only allows, but encourages people to arrange their divorce cases by themselves if the case is uncontested and simple enough. The Connecticut Judicial Branch released a detail instruction called “Do It Yourself Divorce Guide” for those who prefer to undergo the process independently.
Although it may be useful and informative, it is important to remember the key to success for a DIY divorce option. You must be on friendly enough terms with your spouse in order to discuss and negotiate the issues of divorce politely and constructively.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
The initial cost for an uncontested divorce without an attorney is equal to the cost of the simplest case with its additional fees. In Connecticut, this includes the court Filing fee (about $350) and the Marshal’s fee to serve your spouse with the documents (ranging from $50 - $75). If you have children, you may have to pay another $125 for the Parenting education class (usually required by the court).
In comparison, an average Connecticut contested case costs about $20,000.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Connecticut?
Every divorce case is unique and the time it takes can depend a lot on the situation. An average length of an uncontested divorce in Connecticut is about 120 days, taking into account the 90 days “cooling-off” period. It make take less time if the spouses come to an agreement regarding all the issues of divorce before filing the petition.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Connecticut
After filing the Petition (Complaint) and the Summons, you must deliver copies of these papers to your former spouse. Note that that you are not allowed to do this face to face. If your spouse lives in Connecticut, you must use a State Marshal’s service and pay the fee. You can get a list of State Marshals at the Clerk’s office.
If your spouse lives in another state, you should send the paperwork via certified or registered mail. The third option is to hire a private process server in your spouse’s domicile.
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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Connecticut
- Divorce Complaint (JD-FM-159)
The main form that includes your request for divorce.
- Summons Family Actions (JD-FM-3)
Required to inform your spouse about the divorce proceeding and when to come to court.
- Notice of Automatic Court Orders (JD-FM-158)
Informs your spouse about some orders that are automatic in every divorce case. It prevents the spouses from making any decisions that can negatively affect division of marital property or children.
- Affidavit Concerning Children (JD-FM-164)
This form is required if you have children as it contains the necessary information regarding them.
- Case Management Agreement/Order (JD-FM-163)
The divorce date is appointed (the day when you must attend court) on this form.
- Financial Affidavit (JD-FM-6)
Provides information regarding your assets, income, debt, and other financial details.
- Dissolution Agreement (JD-FM-172)
This is an extremely important form for an uncontested case as it includes the spouses’ clear and detailed agreement regarding the terms of divorce.
- Child Support Guideline Worksheet (CCSG -1)
This worksheet is required to calculate the amount of child support.
Online Divorce in Connecticut
There is no opportunity to file for divorce online in Connecticut, but you still can save some time through the help of our service.
If you are unsure on what forms and documents you need for your particular case, we can help.
After a short online-questionnaire, we provide you with the packet of required forms that are customized according to the nuances of your case. The forms are ready to sign and file at court. Furthermore, we offer qualified specialists for online-support regarding any and all questions you may have.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Connecticut
In Connecticut, the amount of child support is calculated based on the Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines. In order to request a child support, you should review the guidelines and complete a special Worksheet - Form CCSG-1.
Child support is calculated by taking into consideration the parents’ combined net income (gross income minus allowable deductions). The calculation and the Worksheet itself are rather complicated so you may need to request help in order to understand it and complete them accurately.
As for child custody under the Connecticut family law, the Legal and Physical custody can be distinguished.
- Legal Custody
Connecticut courts typically encourage joint legal custody. It gives each parent the right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. This means that even if physical custody is held by only one parent, the custodial parent has to consult with their ex regarding important changes in the child’s life such as: education, healthcare, travel, and others.
- Physical custody
The child lives with one physical custodian and the other parent is granted visitation rights. Such a situation is referred to as “Sole physical custody”.
Joint physical custody is possible as well. It is not necessary for the child to live in two residences at the same time because if the child spends a lot of time with each parent, it is also considered as a Joint custody. Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for the child’s welfare.
In any given situation, if one parent shows abusive behaviors towards the child, the court will grant sole custody (both legally and physically) to the other parent. Although the child’s wishes are also taken into account, it is not automatically fulfilled by the court.
Rules for Spousal Support in Connecticut
Connecticut family law implies that both spouses should have the right to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. And since Connecticut spouses believe so too, the issue of alimony is significant in the majority of divorce cases.
As it is impossible, or at least very difficult, to calculate an appropriate “standard of living”, the negotiation process plays an important role. You can either request the help of a lawyer or mediator, or just frankly and openly discuss this issue with your spouse. Regardless, it is important to know what factors the judge will take into consideration when making a decision on spousal support:
- Length of the marriage;
- Ground for divorce;
- Age, health and possible specific needs of the spouses;
- Professional skills & experience;
- Income of each spouse;
- Property and any real estate.
It is important to note that the amount of spousal support is not permanent and set in stone once established. If for some reason the type and amount of alimony changes, you may file a Motion for modification.
Division of Property in Connecticut
Connecticut belongs to equitable distribution states, so all marital property is divided in a just and reasonable way. It can be divided by the Judgement of Divorce if the spouses agree or the Superior Court order if the issue cannot be resolved.
Generally, the court has to take into consideration the same aspect of assigning spousal support when deciding division of property.
Only marital property is subject to division and separate property is not.
- Marital property.
This is all the property that was acquired during the marriage.
- Separate property.
This is all the property that was acquired prior to marriage.
Division of Debt in Connecticut
The division of debt is ruled in the same as division of property.
Personal, premarital debts remain as individual responsibility but some joint tax returns or loans, if any, should be divided equally between the two spouses.
In addition, the purpose of the debt and participation of each spouse in the creation of the debt have a great influence on the result of the division.
Divorce Mediation in Connecticut
Mediation can be an alternative to a court trial. Mediation is used to help reach an agreement between the two spouses, so it is particularly important in the case of an uncontested divorce. The mediator guides and helps the spouses resolve all the important issues of their case such as division of property and child custody.
Furthermore, if the mediator is a lawyer by profession, they are also allowed to assist in the process of filing the documents. Although they are not allowed to represent any of the spouses in court, they can in some special cases, give advice on how to break out of a disagreement.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Connecticut
In order to divorce a missing spouse, you must still attempt to serve them with the required paperwork. If you are unable to locate them, you still have the opportunity to finalize your case with an option called a Divorce by Publication.
To file for a divorce by publication, you must first prove to the court that you tried your best in an attempt to locate your missing spouse with the Affidavit of Diligent Search. If the court accepts it, you must file the following forms - a Motion for First Order of Notice (JD-CL-44) and an Order of Notice (JD-CL-38). Once these papers are approved, you can publish the court order in the local newspaper of the area your spouse most likely resides. The notification must be published once a week for 2 weeks.
If the missing spouse still fails to respond back to your or the court, then you must file another form called the Motion to Dispense with Further Notice. When this is approved the court, a divorce by default is granted.
It is important to note that the court cannot govern alimony, child support, and property issues in the case of a divorce by publication.
Default Divorce in Connecticut
To understand what is a default divorce is in Connecticut, you must first know the concept of a "return date." The return date is a legal term for the day when the waiting period for a divorce begins. It also stipulates the date by when the Respondent (non-filing spouse) should file an answer to the Petition (an Appearance form).
In Connecticut, the return day is Tuesday. So when filing the Petition, you should point the Tuesday (in a period of about 4 weeks out) to serve the spouse.
The Respondent must then file and submit the paperwork 2 days before the return date if they don’t want any temporary decision regarding child and spousal support to be entered without their participation.
A default divorce can be granted if the Respondent fails to respond within 90 days. In a default divorce, the final hearing can be arranged without the second spouse and only the Petitioner’s terms of the divorce are granted by the court.
Annulment of the Marriage in Connecticut
Annulment of marriage declares a marriage as void and initially illegal. But unlike most other states, in Connecticut, the children of such a marriage are still considered as legitimate, and all the issues of support and custody can be entered by the court. The same thing goes for property division. Connecticut courts welcome the fair division of “marital” property & debts even in the case of a void marriage.
In Connecticut, you can file a “Complaint for annulment” based on the following grounds:
- Incest, consanguinity, or marriage with a stepchild/stepparent;
- Mental incapacity of one of the spouses at the time the marriage was registered;
- The wedding ceremony was held by someone who didn’t have official authority;
- The couple didn’t submit the required blood testing;
- Fraud marriage (consent to marriage was obtained by force or deceit);
- A health issue that can affect the marriage was hidden from the spouse on purpose.
Legal Separation in Connecticut
Legal separation is recognized by Connecticut jurisdiction. This decree has a similar effect as a divorce, but officially, the spouses remain married and are not allowed to remarry.
What is the point of a legal separation? There are some financial benefits of this option so the tax, estate, and insurance consequences may differ from those of a divorce. Furthermore, couples who were married for more than 10 years can receive Social Security benefits based on their ex-partner's income.
In addition, it is much simpler to get a divorce after legal separation as it doesn’t demand the participation of your spouse.
Same-Sex Divorce in Connecticut
Connecticut is a rather modern and liberal state as same-sex marriages have been recognized since 2008, seven years before even the U.S. Supreme Court approved it .
All married couples in the United States are granted equal rights on how to terminate their marriage according to their states’ laws.
The main unsolved issue around same-sex divorce in Connecticut is whether the marriage should be measured from the start of the legal ceremony or from the start of the relationship.
Since many same-sex couples have lived together and made important decisions before the official registration of marriage, it can be difficult to solve issues regarding alimony.
Military Divorce in Connecticut
In Connecticut, like in other states, military members are protected from the default divorce decree by the federal law and The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. If one of the spouses is on active duty and cannot be served with the divorce paperwork, the divorce proceeding may be postponed. Furthermore, the military spouse is given an additional 60 days after they return so that they have enough time to file and submit and answer to the divorce Petition.
As for alimony and child support, there is a rule that limits these payments from the military spouse to be no greater than 60% of their income. Other than that, the other regulations for divorce are the same as a regular civil divorce.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Connecticut
Although felony conviction is one of the fault grounds for divorce, you do not have to file for a fault divorce if you wish to the case to be uncontested, or if the terms of incarceration don’t meet the fault-divorce requirements.
Generally, this process is the same as for any other regular divorce case. The only difference is that you must know where the facility your resides spouse resides in is and serve them with the divorce documents.
Your ex will be served and taken to court, or, otherwise, a default divorce will be granted.
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Connecticut Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
If you are financially unable to afford to pay the court fees, you may request the court to waive them. Both the filing fee and the Marshal’s fee can be waived; you just need to fill out the Application for Waiver of Fees (Form JD-FM-75). This form is to prove to the court that you are financially incapable of paying the fees and support yourself in the proceedings.
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